In the Super Bowl matchup between the Chiefs and 49ers, we have an old-time matchup of an elite offense in Kansas City and an elite defense in San Francisco. There has long been the debate of what actually “wins championships”, but what side of the ball has historically had a larger influence in the big game?
While there are no concrete answers on which matters more for a single-game outcome, using Football Outsiders’ Defense-adjusted Value over Average (DVOA) metrics as a quick and dirty way to hash out a surface view, here’s a look at all the Super Bowl matchups since the NFL expanded to 32 teams in the 2002 season.
|Season||AFC||Points||OFF DVOA||DEF DVOA||NFC||Points||OFF DVOA||DEF DVOA|
- Super Bowl teams ranked higher in offensive DVOA over this span have a 4-13 record.
- Teams with the higher-ranked offense have lost nine straight Super Bowls.
- Teams ranked higher in defensive DVOA have an 11-6 record.
- Teams ranked higher in defensive DVOA has won four straight Super Bowls.
- Top-5 defenses have an 8-5 record in the Super Bowl.
- Those teams have a 6-3 record when not facing another top-5 defense.
- Top-5 offenses are 5-11 in the Super Bowl.
- Those teams have a 3-9 record when not facing another top-5 offense.
- Top-5 ranked offenses have a 1-5 record when facing a top-5 defense.
- Top-3 offenses have a 3-7 record when not facing another top-3 ranked offense.
- Those teams have a 1-3 record when facing a top-3 ranked defense.
- Teams with a defense outside of the top-10 have a 3-5 record in the Super Bowl when not facing another defense outside of the top-10.
- Those teams have a 2-4 record when facing an opposing offense ranked in the top-10.